Sir Alex Ferguson ‘worried’ about facing Newcastle – and the club’s fans

WARY ... Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
WARY ... Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
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IT’S a case of once-bitten, twice shy for Sir Alex Ferguson.

And the wily 70-year-old’s given Newcastle United the greatest respect at St James’s Park since THAT 5-0 drubbing all those years ago.

Manchester United, he knows, have to play the team and the stadium.

Newcastle’s famous victory – and Philippe Albert’s audacious chip – over Ferguson’s side in the 1996/97 went down in Geordie folklore.

Last season Pardew’s team recorded a comprehensive 3-0 win over Man United on Tyneside, and St James’s Park was again rocking.

“Don’t think that Alex Ferguson isn’t worried about our stadium more than our team, because he probably is,” Pardew told the Gazette.

“He knows our stadium can take the team up a level – that’s why we’ve had great results against Man United at home.

“On the back of a defeat in the Premier League, they know our fans will be buoyed by Thursday night. He’ll not be savouring the venue, trust me.”

Pardew was playing for Barnet when Newcastle, battling Man United for the title, recorded that result.

And the 51-year-old knew the fixture was special long before he became manager, with Sir Bobby Robson having also led the club to a memorable home win over Sir Alex’s side.

“Without being the manager, I knew about this fixture and how important it was to this city,” added Pardew.

“Now I’m the manager, I’ve had a taste of it, and I know everything that it means to them.

“Therefore, the team has to put in a determined display. Our fans will accept defeat, but only if we go into the game in the right manner – ie trying to win it.

“That’s what we’ll try and do, trust me.”

Newcastle go into the game on the back of a impressive result in Europe.

Pardew’s team beat Bordeaux 3-0 at home in a Europa League fixture on Thursday night.

And if Newcastle can attack last season’s Premier League runners-up as they did the French club, they will have a chance of claiming a result.

One chink in Man United’s armour is their injury-hit defence, with Nemanja Vidic sidelined through injury.

“They’re a team you can’t help but admire,” he said. “They’ll have control of the game for periods. We need to be concentrated.

“But you can hurt them this year – they’re not as good defensively as they can be. There are opportunities for us.”

The Bordeaux performance as much as the result itself has heartened Pardew and his players.

“It’s definitely given everyone in the dressing room and training ground a boost,” said Pardew.

“At times, it’s hard to put your finger on why we don’t click, then suddenly we click.

“The work we’ve put in, and everything we’ve done, is starting to bear fruit. You take that into the next game.”

The Wear-Tyne derby is on the horizon – Newcastle visit the Stadium of Light on October 21 – and Pardew knows the importance of going into the international break in a positive frame of mind.

“All we can determine is the performance,” said Pardew. “If our performance is good enough as good as last year, we might get the same result.”

Meanwhile, Sir Alex will have experienced midfield trio Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick available to face Newcastle.

Defender Jonny Evans has also recovered from a dead leg, but Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, and Phil Jones are not yet ready to return.

Twitter: @milesstarforth